Clemson University

Steele: Wins fail to show team's progress

CLEMSON - Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele doesn't take medicine for family history reasons, and that has inspired some interesting speculation as to how he has dealt with the two broken bones in his right hand.

Steele, who injured his hand when he punched a hotel chair during his pregame speech at the ACC title game, went to great pains Thursday to hammer home this message: Despite the defense's shortcomings in losses to Georgia Tech and South Carolina, players should be proud of the unit's total body of work this season.

The same goes for the coaching staff after the Tigers reached the ACC title game but fell short of the team's first conference crown since 1991.

"If this is the 10th year of the deal and that happens, there will be a problem," Steele said. "But this is the first year of the process. We were brought here to build a program. To build a program that can sustain itself through leadership, work habits, fundamentals, technique and all that. I'd like to tell you we can get that done in 11 months, but obviously we didn't. So you just keep chopping wood until you do. You don't panic and throw the baby out with the bath water.

"I'll probably get called about this, but I'll tell you this: I don't think it's fair to this program to evaluate (the current status) because there's people here that were here (on the previous staff). This is a new staff. This is a new program.

"We've got a long way to go, and we're not happy because we didn't finish the way we needed to finish it. But I'll tell you this: Too much success too quick sometimes is worse than a wakeup call. Because then they think it's magical dust."

All-star invites. Five seniors have accepted invitations to postseason all-star games.

Running back C.J. Spiller, defensive end Ricky Sapp and receiver Jacoby Ford all said they had agreed to play in the Jan. 30 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., the top game for NFL prospects.

Guard Thomas Austin and linebacker Kavell Conner are slated to play in the Jan. 23 East-West All-Star game in Orlando, Fla. Cornerback Crezdon Butler has yet to earn a postseason invitation.

Extra points. Defensive tackle Jamie Cumbie was held out of Thursday's practice because of today's scheduled root canal today. ... Coach Dabo Swinney said he does not anticipate having any academic casualties for the Dec. 27 Music City Bowl against Kentucky, although he will not know for sure until perhaps today.

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